The Truth About Publishing – 14

Lesson 13: You’re not published until you’re in print (and sometimes not even then)

Deals fall over for all sorts of reasons, so don’t count your chickens until they’re roosting in a thousand bookshops. Here are some of the most common deal breakers, all of which have happened to writers I know or have heard about:
  • There was a ‘misunderstanding’ when the publisher made your agent an offer for your book. You don’t get a publishing contract after all, or you get a contract but a worse deal than originally offered.
  • The publisher goes bankrupt before your book is published. If they’ve paid the advance, you keep it. If they haven’t, you’re back in the queue.
  • Your editor leaves or is fired and her replacement hates your book and decides not to publish it. You keep the advance though.
  • The publisher is having a tough time and decides that they would lose money publishing your book, so cans it. You keep the advance and, if you’re lucky, they might pay you a small sum in lieu.
  • The editor loves your book and offers a terrific hardcover deal and great promotion, but the sales department or the major book buyers don’t agree that it has big sales potential. You get downgraded to paperback, with little or no promotion, and your potential income and sales are massively reduced.
  • Your book is found to be libellous and the publisher doesn’t want to get sued, so they cancel publication, or if it’s been printed, they withdraw the book and pulp it. You’ve violated your contract and have to pay back the advance, and they could even sue you for their losses.
  • Your non-fiction book is proven to be fraudulent, ditto.

Keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed. With sky-high expectations, you’ll be disappointed even if the book does well.

2 thoughts on “The Truth About Publishing – 14”

  1. I can see how that happens. Especially with different personalities at play. Devastating would be an understatement, however with as many rejections as writers get, I am sure they would, after a time, shake it off and jump back in. I am so extreme once I get my hooks into something, I can't let go, so being less excited about getting published won't work, it just means I have more energy to use and less sleep to worry about :) Though I must admit, it is a long way down into that deep, dark pit of despair if anything like your post happens.

  2. Most of the writers whom that happened to are still writing, DC, but I know it was devastating for some of them. Writing is a tough business. iT's tough to get published, tough to sell many books when you do, and tough to stay published if your books don't sell. You need utter determination to survive, and As Sean Williams once said, 'Anyone who can be talkout out of writing should be.' Because if you can be talked out of writing, you don't have the determination to succeed at it.

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